God’s Timing and Purposes – Ecc. 3:1-8
Pastor Vicky MootsKingman, Kansas
Ecc. 3:8a: “A time to love…” Love actually began before time began, before the foundation of the world, with the love that God had for His Son. God then chose to share that love with His creation, as we read in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Before I go any further, I need to discuss the different types of love that are mentioned in the New Testament. The Greek word “eros,” from which we derive the word “erotic,” referring to a sexual, sensual type of love is not found in the New Testament. There are two other Greek words for love which are used: “phileo” and “agape.”
“Phileo” is often referred to as “brotherly love” and denotes fondness or affection including kissing. This is used to express our natural love for each other, exclusive of sensual love.
“Agape” is the purest form of love. It is selfless, unconditional, committed to the highest good, a self-sacrificial type of love, irrespective of the worthiness of the object and expects nothing in return. It is not possible for us to possess this type of love apart from a relationship with God, as John informs us in I John 4:7-8: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love [agape] is of God; and everyone that loveth of born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
In vs. 9-10, John makes it clear that love [agape] was first sent to us by God in the form of His Son: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [atonement] for our sins.”
As believers, we are commanded “to love’ (“agapao,” the verb form of “agape”) others and God. It is not an option. It is now our “time to love.” Jesus, Himself, gave us this commandment in John 15:12-13.
First of all, in v. 9, He states, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” That means that Jesus loved us with the same quality and intensity of love that His Father loved Him! Now He desires for us to receive the fullness of that divine love and to remain steadfast in it, to continue walking in it day by day.
Then in vs. 12-13, He commands us to love others with the same kind and intensity of love (agape) with which He loved us, a love that caused Him to willingly sacrifice Himself for us: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” That same love also caused Him to lay down His life for His enemies, for we were yet enemies when Christ died for us.
Are we really expected to be able to do that, to love even our enemies? How is that possible? It is not possible if we try to do it on our own. However, anything that we have been commanded to do in the Scripture, we are enabled to do, not by our own efforts, but through the life of Christ in us. Therefore, it is “not I but Christ,” as Paul said in Gal. 2:20.
Agape, divine love, is not based on our emotions; it is the fruit of the Spirit, as Paul tells us in Gal. 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” We read in Rom. 5:5, “…the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost…” but we need to share it.
We can choose to manifest God’s love, in spite of our emotions, by yielding to the Holy Spirit in our lives and allowing the “Christ in us” to love through us. It is only then that we are able to love someone who is undeserving, or someone who has hurt us, with the same kind of love that God showed to sinful mankind. That love was placed in our hearts in the person of Jesus Christ when we were born again.
In I Cor. 13 Paul discusses the necessity of divine love (agape), translated “charity,” and states that we are nothing apart from it, no matter how many good deeds we do. He then lists the characteristics of agape in vs. 4-7: “Charity [agape] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things…endureth all things.”
As you can see, all of these characteristics describe the life of Jesus. They are the exact opposite of human nature, and can only be manifest in our lives through the life of Christ in us, as a new creation, as we walk in the Spirit.
So, when is it our “time to love”? Today, and every day, from now through eternity, for Paul tells us in v. 8 that “Charity [agape] never faileth [comes to an end] …” Paul ends the chapter with v. 13: “And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity [agape].” Why is it greater? Because faith and hope will come to an end when we see Christ face to face, but love will continue for eternity. Why not start sharing God’s love now!